`It would be good fun to attend my own funeral'
DID you read about Frank Hughes of Darlington?
Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.
While the 80-year-old former bus driver continued to enjoy good health and happiness, many of his friends and workmates went to his funeral.
Well, the funeral of another 80-year-old who also happened to be called Frank Hughes, actually.
And when his chums saw him walking down the high street an hour later they greeted him as if he was Lazarus.
Mix-ups do happen at funerals.
Remember Del Boy and Rodney going to Uncle Albert's? They went to the wrong one, carrying a floral anchor to the interment of a chap who had been in the RAF.
That was a comedy show but the same thing happened to friends Mick and Mags, only without the floral anchor.
They were late at the funeral service of a family friend because they had to park streets away from the church. Afterwards, they got stuck in traffic on the way to the burial.
As they entered the cemetery, they breathed a sigh of relief when they saw a funeral cortege ahead of them and tagged on.
They parked, followed the mourners and stood at the graveside with heads bowed and, as the coffin was lowered, slowly became aware of the quizzical looks they were getting from a group of complete strangers.
When they glanced around, they saw the funeral they should have been attending on the other side of the graveyard.
I used to go to lots of funerals. As a junior reporter on a weekly newspaper in Cheshire in the late 1950s, I would stand at the door and collect the names of the mourners which were then printed in the next edition. If it was a big funeral, two of us would go. If it was a really big funeral, the entire staff of three would attend.
On one occasion when a titled bigwig from the county set died, we also had to supply the names and messages on the floral tributes. This was a challenge as they stretched the area of a football field and it was pouring down and the ink was running.
How's that for journalistic training?
Anyway, from an early age, I lost any fear of the ritual of death. Some of my best friends were undertakers.
And I have been to so many that I have thought it would be rather good fun to attend my own funeral. Not as the chief guest in a casket, but as a late arriving mourner at the back, heavily disguised in dark glasses, Homburg hat and stack heeled shoes, just to hear what people have to say about me.
I mean, it's bound to be something nice.
The sad thing is, nobody ever tells you how much you were liked and will be missed when you are alive. It's only when you have snuffed out your mortal coil that people reflect on your good points.
Perhaps we might get more out of life if we did that now, while we can, and not take family and friends for granted until it's too late.
Go on. Be appreciative. Tell someone you love them. Or like them. Or that they're witty and good fun. Say thanks for being a friend.
You'll feel better for it and so will they.